Up First briefing: Houses passes child tax credit bill; EU agrees on Ukraine aid
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The U.S. House has overwhelmingly approved a three-year deal that would temporarily expand the child tax credit and implement tax cuts for businesses. In a rare moment of bipartisanship in a divided Congress, the deal is a result of negotiations between Republican Rep. Jason Smith and Democratic Sen. Rob Wyden.
- While NPR's Eric McDaniel admits he loves to be glib about Congress, he notes on Up First that this is a bill people will really feel. If signed into law, it would benefit 16 million children and lift as many as half a million out of poverty. Still, the bill is not as robust as the COVID-era child tax policy, which has led some progressives to oppose it.
Hit songs from some of the biggest artists in the world, including BTS, Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga, may soon be unavailable to TikTok users. As Universal Music Group negotiates a new contract with the social media giant, it's threatening to pull its music catalog from the app unless TikTok agrees to more favorable terms for compensation and protection against AI.
- TikTok accounts for just 1% of UMG's revenue, according to an open letter from the company. But NPR's Stephen Thompson says it's not just a matter of royalties, and the stakes are still high. TikTok is a major source of exposure, especially for smaller artists. Streams on the app are also factored into rankings like the Billboard Top 100 chart.
Ukraine's beloved and respected top general, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, is at risk of losing his job as tensions between him and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy rise. A source close to the government confirmed with NPR that Zelenskyy asked Zaluzhnyi to resign earlier this week. Zaluzhnyi was appointed in 2021, before Russia's invasion of Ukraine. While Zelenskyy has said Ukraine is slowly but surely winning the war, Zaluzhnyi has publicly opposed this narrative and says it's a stalemate.
- Firing Zaluzhnyi outright would likely lead to public backlash for Zelenskyy, NPR's Joanna Kakissis says. Zaluzhnyi is more popular than the Ukrainian president in some public opinion polls. Kakissis says she hasn't met "a single Ukrainian who has not raved about him," and soldiers tell her they trust him with their lives.
- News of tensions between Zelenskyy and general Zaluzhnyi comes as European Union leaders reached an agreement to give Ukraine more than $50 billion in aid.
Hundreds of ketamine clinics have opened across the U.S. in recent years, providing infusions to treat a wide array of mental health issues. While it's legal for doctors to prescribe the drug, the FDA hasn't approved it for mental health treatment. That means protocols vary between practitioners.
- The treatment generally involves administering ketamine through an IV while patients wear headphones and eye masks. Some clinics favor gradual, low-dose treatments, while others advocate larger amounts that can induce hallucinations.
- Practitioner Sam Mandel says clinics should ideally have both mental health and anesthesia expertise under one roof. He believes a multidisciplinary approach is needed to develop standards across the field.
- This is part of a broader psychedelic renaissance in mental health. A drug containing MDMA, known as ecstasy or molly, is expected to get FDA approval this year. Drugs with psilocybin, the active ingredient in "magic mushrooms," and the hallucinogen DMT are expected to launch as soon as 2027.
It's an especially overwhelming time to be watching TV. There are so many streaming services to choose from, not to mention a myriad of programming bundles, membership deals and ad-supported subscriptions. Plus, many major streaming services are raising fees and cracking down on password sharing. So which ones are worth it for you? NPR TV critic Eric Deggans offers this handy guide and a few tips for how to use it:
- Create a TV diary, taking a week or month to track what you're watching and where.
- Audit your streaming services to make sure you're paying only for the level of subscription you need.
- Consider bundling to save money. Use online resources to keep track of recurring payments.
- Be flexible. Rising prices, changing content and free trials offer plenty of opportunities to add and drop services as you need.
3 things to know before you go
- A federal judge has dismissed Disney's case against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Disney claimed DeSantis punished it for using its First Amendment rights when he removed Disney's self-governing status in 2023 after its CEO opposed a Florida law limiting how gender and sexual orientation is discussed in schools.
- Syphilis cases in the U.S. have risen to their highest levels since 1950, according to the CDC. Rates increased among all age groups, including newborns, with racial and ethnic minorities most disproportionately affected.
- Top tech CEOs, including Meta's Mark Zuckerberg, X's Linda Yaccarino and TikTok's Shou Zi Chew, were grilled by Washington lawmakers yesterday. At the hearing, senators said their companies have failed to protect children from online sexual abuse and exploitation.
This newsletter was edited by Treye Green. Rachel Treisman contributed.
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